Magic Mirror: True Reflection?
OK peeps – here’s a self-portrait of a defiant Claude Cahun dressed as an elderly lady with a Nazi badge between her teeth. Why? Because she was arrested and charged with distributing anti-Nazi propaganda by German officers on the occupied island of Jersey where Claude (nee Lucy Schwob – see what’s going on here?) had lived with her partner Suzanne Malherbe since 1937.
Not everything is always what it seems.
For life a little less ordinary, perhaps we could draw your attention to the Nunnery Gallery‘s upcoming presentation of Magic Mirror – a major free exhibition of work by French Surrealist artist Claude Cahun and filmmaker Sarah Pucill.
Sarah Pucill’s strangely beguiling film Magic Mirror combines a re-staging of Cahun’s black and white photographs with selected extracts from her book Aveux Non Avenus (Confessions Denied). Exploring the longstanding relationship between photography and film Pucill moves Cahun’s work from still to moving image and repositions Cahun within a post-modern context with gender, self and identity at the centre of discourse.
Curated by Karen Le Roy Harris the exhibition runs from 17 April – 14 June 2015, to coincide with Jersey Heritage’s landmark retrospective of Cahun and Marcel Moore. Many of the works on view will be shown in London for the first time.
Called ‘one of the most curious spirits of our time’ Cahun used her subversive avant-garde art practice as a form of resistance in Nazi occupied Jersey during WW2. Cahun continually challenged social conformities. Known for her writings she published articles in journals and in 1929 translated Havelock Ellis’ theories on the third gender, which forms part of the gender neutral position Cahun took. ‘Masculine? Feminine? But it depends on the situation. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me’ (Claude Cahun). Cahun positioned herself as a surrealist but was not part of the official surrealist group, as many women were not. She was part of the Théâtre Esoterique and this element of staging and masquerade are carried through to her work. Cahun paved the way and was precursor to the next wave of female artists and photographers such as Francesca Woodman and Cindy Sherman, whose work also references gender identity, surrealism, fashion photography and tableaux vivants.
A large number of Cahun’s works created throughout her non-conformist life will be on show.
I’m a non-conformist too (if that’s alright by you).